Audio Files

The Black Mile - ABC Radio 17th October 2010

Download Audio - Right click and save link

From ABC Radio National, John Harding's radio documentary on history of Fitzroy. Broadcast 17th October 2010

The story of the urban Koori communuty that emerged in the inner city suburb of Fitzroy and in neighbouring Collingwood. The Black Mile was the popular name given to Fitzroy's Gertrude Street, a main artery of the suburb, which was home to some legendary black pubs, and later, the Aboriginal community's own health, housing and legal organisations.


History Under Siege: battles over the past - ABC Radio 20th April 2008

Download Audio - Right click and save link

While Australia has witnessed its own sustained ideological battles over the interpretation of its national history, the issues and politics which have framed these debates have rarely been scrutinized against comparable experiences in other countries around the world.

The recent focus in Australia on the teaching of national history, amid concerns over historical literacy, was played out in the United States in the early 1990s, and the experience in both countries was mirrored by similar sets of anxieties and arguments regarding historical understanding, citizenship and national identity.

And like the United States, and countries in Asia and Europe, Australia has also seen the increasing politicisation of the past -- as politicians invoke history to serve present day interests.

What can be learned from more careful scrutiny of the political use of the past, or particular aspects of the past, in the process of governance and policy making? And is there a link between the political use of the past, and the popular interest in one area of history over another? Why, for example, do young people in Australia today say they prefer to learn about the Anzac legend rather than the history of Indigenous Australia?

History, like politics, is about national identity, and the struggle over ownership and articulation of Australian national identity lay at the heart of most of the recent skirmishes in the 'history wars'.


On the Shore of a Strange Land: the Story of David Unaipon - ABC Radio 11th July 2010

Download Audio - Right click and save link

David Unaipon smiles out at us from the fifty dollar note, immortalised on our currency for his fierce intelligence and achievements. Who was David Unaipon, and why do we still know so little about him?

David Unaipon was born on the Murray River in Ngarrindjeri country in 1872, and brought up in his own culture. His lifetime spanned the first phase of colonial contact between his people and the Europeans. In fact he died only months before the 1967 referendum that would have afforded him citizenship.

Unaipon was a scientist, orator and singer, and the first published Aboriginal author. He was the most famous Aborigine of his time, nicknamed 'Australia's Leonardo da Vinci' for his inventions: his improvements to the hand-held shearing comb are still in use today. At the turn of the century he spoke of aerodynamics, he foresaw the helicopter, and outlined the uses of polarised light to a rapt, if bemused, European audience. Unaipon spent his life trying to harness the secret of perpetual motion.

In an era where frontier conflict was still commonplace, and his own achievements were minimised by the scientific obsession with Social Darwinism, Unaipon's intelligence, as well as his eccentricity, set him apart from black and white alike. He was very well educated in both cultures, and travelled between both with only his wits as a guide.

On the shore of a strange land is an extract from one of Unaipon's most powerful poems, and can be heard in this program.

This program was first broadcast in 2008.


Truganini, bushranger

Download Audio - Right click and save link

Read Transcript

One of the most familiar names in the story of Australian colonisation is that of the Tasmanian Aboriginal woman 'Truganini'. But for most people the story begins and ends with a single, very famous photo, along with a label describing her simply as the last of the full-blood Tasmanian Aborigines.

Not only was that label deeply misleading, we now know that Truganini's life is one of the most significant foundation stories of European settlement in Australia. But there's still one story that few people know about and about which little has been written—it's the extraordinary tale of Truganini's time as a bushranger.

This program was first broadcast on 27 December 2009.